Archiving uncluttered web pages

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A reader who wishes to remain anonymous would like to print some of our work. The anonymous reader writes:

I value Macworld’s instructional and troubleshooting articles highly, and often copy and paste them to a Word document to save in my “Troubleshooting” folder. However, this method also carries over unwanted icons and non-relevant article links. Is there an easy way to get a clean version suitable for placing in a Word or TextEdit document?

I appreciate that you appreciate our work enough to want to file it away. Fortunately, I can offer a solution to you that doesn’t require that we rejigger our website to add a Print button to every page. Like so:

While using Safari to view an article that you’d like to archive, click on the Reader button that appears in the Address field. The article, complete with its links, will appear in a pane all its own—free of elements unrelated to the article.

At this point you could select all the text in this pane, copy it, and then paste it into a Word document. But why bother when there’s Automator? Just launch Automator and from the sheet that appears, choose Service and click Choose.

Now assemble a workflow that contains these actions: Copy to Clipboard and Create New Word Document (filed under Documents). The top of the workflow will read Service Receives Selected Text in Any Application. Leave that as it is. Now save and give the workflow an intuitive name such as Archive in Word.

The completed workflow

When you next want to archive an article, click the Reader button, press Command-A to select all the text in the pane that appears, click on the Safari menu and from the Services command choose your Archive in Word workflow. In a short time Word will launch (if it’s not already running) and a new Word document will appear that contains the contents of the Reader document.

Note that not all web pages will allow Reader to do its work. For example, if the page has text within frames the Reader button won’t appear. Instead you’ll see an RSS button. Also note that this method won't archive the article's images. If you'd like the accompanying images you'd be better off opening the page in Reader and then choosing File -> Print and then selecting Save as PDF from the PDF pop-up menu.

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